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Coming to America
Just as retailers like Tivoli Audio and Best Kiteboarding try to figure out how to sell to international consumers, so too are overseas retailers intent on marketing to consumers in the United States. Robert Luo, president of Hangzhou Classic-Maxim Arts & Crafts Co. Ltd., a China-based manufacturer of wall art and white boards that supplies retail chains like Office Depot, says his company plans to open a factory in Los Angeles and sell directly to U.S. consumers on the web. He's planning to launch a site called Artcombo.com and is also considering other online sales channels, such as eBay.com.
Luo says the manufacturer is moving to target U.S. consumers because its export volume is slowing, which he attributes to global economic problems; he says the company's growth has slowed from nearly 50% last year to about 30% this year. Annual revenue, he says, is close to $50 million. "In our next steps we will focus on e-commerce," Luo says.
A web world where national borders are more porous than ever means retailers willing to cross them will have more sales opportunities than they do today. At the same time, fewer restraints also create new competitive challenges and challengers.